March 20, 2017: Markets opened slightly lower Monday and traded close to the break-even line all day. Leading indicators and consumer sentiment readings were both strong. Only the materials sector traded high late in the afternoon while energy and utilities were the laggards. The blue chips were performing best. WTI crude oil for April delivery settled at $48.22 a barrel, down 1.2% on the day. April gold added 0.3% on the day to settle at $1,234.00. Equities were headed for a mixed close shortly before the bell as the DJIA traded up 0.03% for the day, the S&P 500 traded down 0.14%, and the Nasdaq Composite traded up 0.02%.
Stocks traded very near the break-even line just minutes before the closing bell. The closing tally could finish with either a small gain or a small loss for any or all of the indexes.
The DJIA stock posting the largest daily percentage gain ahead of the close Monday was Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE: CAT) which traded up 2.66% at $95.38. The stock’s 52-week range is $69.04 to $99.46. Volume was roughly 15% below the daily average of around 5 million shares. The company reported a 1% decline in February retail sales this morning, the best year-over-year mark in more than 4 years.
Nike Inc. (NYSE: NKE) traded up 1.72% at $58.79. The stock’s 52-week range is $49.01 to $65.44. Volume was about 10% above the daily average of around 9 million shares. The company had no specific news Monday and is on tap to report fourth quarter earnings after markets close Tuesday.
The Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) traded up 0.93% at $112.79. The stock’s 52-week range is $90.32 to $113.15, a new 52-week high posted this morning. Volume was about equal to the daily average of around 6.6 million. The company’s latest movie release, “Beauty and the Beast,” posted a $170 million opening weekend.
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) traded up 0.92% at $141.27. The stock’s 52-week range is $89.47 to $141.34, and the high was posted this morning. Volume was about 70% below the daily average of around 27 million shares. The company had no specific news Monday.
Of the Dow 30 stocks, 18 are on track to close higher Monday and 12 are set to close lower.